Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unwittingly, A Reading, A Favorite

Ah, another of my favorites. The minimalist poetry of John Burnside. I can never decide what this poem is about really. Dreams, the past, past lives, maybe? Perhaps all three. It doesn't matter, I love it. How I know exactly what he is saying, how I don't know. Enjoy. . .

I’ve visited the place
where thought begins:
pear trees suspended in sunlight, narrow shops,
alleys to nothing
but nettles
and broken wars;
and though it might look different
to you:
a seaside town, with steep roofs
the colour of oysters,
the corner of some junkyard with its glint
of coming rain,
though someone else again would recognise
the warm barn, the smell of milk,
the wintered cattle
shifting in the dark,
it’s always the same lit space,
the one good measure:
Sometimes you’ll wake in a chair
as the light is fading,
or stop on the way to work
as a current of starling
turns on itself
and settles above the green,
and because what we learn in the dark
remains all our lives,
a noise like the sea, displacing the day’s
pale knowledge,
you’ll come to yourself
in a glimmer of rainfall or frost,
the burnt smell of autumn,
a meeting of parallel lines,
and know you were someone else
for the longest time,
pretending you knew where you were, like a diffident tourist,
lost on the one main square, and afraid to  inquire.
John Burnside

Friday, September 16, 2011

Upward Over the Mountain - Best Ever!

Sam Beam (of Iron and Wine) never fails to impress. His album Creek Drank the Cradle is one of my all-time-favorites.  I'm also particularly fond of the band's live performances. Recently, I stumbled across  this performance of Upward Over the Mountain, and i just found it breathtaking . . . There is just something so earth-shattering about the beat, and so heartbreakingly sweet about the words (see lyrics below): I continue to be in awe of everything Beam does.

Listen to the music by clicking the YouTube link below! Notice the album is named for a line in the song!

Watch "iron and wine - upward over the mountain" on YouTube

"Mother don't worry, I killed the last snake that lived in the creek bed Mother don't worry, I've got some money I saved for the weekend Mother remember being so stern with that girl who was with me? Mother remember the blink of an eye when I breathed through your body?

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten Sons are like birds, flying upward over the mountain

Mother I made it up from the bruise on the floor of this prison Mother I lost it, all of the fear of the Lord I was given Mother forget me now that the creek drank the cradle you sang to Mother forgive me, I sold your car for the shoes that I gave you

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten Sons could be birds, taken broken up to the mountain

Mother don't worry, I've got a coat and some friends on the corner Mother don't worry, she's got a garden we're planting together Mother remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry? Blood on the floor, fleas on their paws, And you cried 'til the morning

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten Sons are like birds, flying always over the mountain."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Angels in America: A Review

I read this play for an acting class I took, and for the final exam performed a scene from it where I played a drug-addicted woman who suspects her husband is sleeping with men. (She happens to be right, but her reality is so spun she doesn't even know for sure). In the scene she and her husband confront each other about their secrets, It was so intense I cried. Especially after my acting partner pushed me against the wall trying to stop my character from leaving. He spun me around, got right in my face and said that line "you're not pretty, not like this" he had these beautiful intense brown eyes, and he was a really good actor, and in that moment I totally believed him. That we were married, that he was cheating, that I wasn't pretty, and my back had hit that wall so hard, I think it startled us both! I think he was just so good at acting, that it made me good in that moment as well! The whole class was just silent and staring at us. It was crazy! More than that, I just think the material was so incredible. . . just an excellent play, really. I need to read it again. . . I will always feel so intensely for the characters and their circumstances. Angels in America is one of the most striking and memorable plays I think I've ever read.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Her Fearful Symmetry: A review

So, maybe I commited a cardinal sin by giving such a celebrated author a one star rating, but I am pretty easy to please, and I found myself less than impressed.  For starters here is the book summary (as provided by the Goodreads website):

metery in London.

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers--with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another.

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including--perhaps--their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.

Well, I'll tell you. I tried, at first half-heartedly, then by really trying to throw my guts into it - you know, enjoy the damn thing! Well, I got fed up, quit trying, and gave the book a single star (out of 5) on the Gooreads site.

Knowing that I have the refined literary palette of Jane Austin, but paired with attention span of a fruit fly, my best friend Lisa sent me the following message:

LisaLoohoo Wrote: please review this. I would love to hear what made you rate it one star!

(See, Lisa knows right now that I have either hit it dead on the nose or have completely missed the mark, because for me, there is so in-between)

So here it is. . . The reason for my low review

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
(Goodreads Author)

So first off, I never finished it. It was like nothing was happening, then all of the sudden . . .

There was this part where the ghost of the  45-yr old woman comes back and watches her 24 year old boyfriend lay on top of her old clothes while whacking off and crying for like a day and a half. (Oh -- and when she sees it, she wants to touch herself, but doesn't know how to use her sad little ghost body yet).

It was grotesque, heartbreaking and was really the first real exciting thing to happen. I just stopped reading it eventually. I am going to add a "never finished" shelf and add it. It sort of the reason that I hesitate to read The Time Traveler's Wife.

But, I am willing to one day give it another shot, maybe I was just in a weird mood that week.

September 11, 2001 - 2011

   It is hard to find words for this day. I can't believe it has been ten years. Mostly I just ask that God bless our country. May we never forget the civilians, law enforcement and the first responders that lost their lives on that day, and in the days that followed. May we be thankful to the military forces that serve and protect us, that signed up in the name of September 11th, that fought for justice and safety. May they continue to stand only for what is needful, what is just and what is right. May this be what we all stand for. I just pray that what we remember about that day, is the stories of compassion and hummanity--the acts of kindness, bravery and sacrifice that were made by all kinds of people regaurdless of religion, politics or nationality. The loss of life on September 11th was massive, horrifying and nearly unspeakable. Our country's heartbreak was unbelievable.  But the stories of grace, hope and kindness that came out after that day are what I will always remember the most. These stories are more meaningful than the death of any tyrant.
        I pray that what we teach our children about that day will be this: On September 11th, 2001, our country was buried under the rubble of confusion and heartbreak. Our broken voices cried out in the dark, but we found our strength - we rose up from the ashes, blinking and thirsty and shaken. We passed around water and bandages and we began to heal the wounded. We buried the broken, empty bodies. We wept together. We held hands and prayed with people whose beliefs were not our own. The strongest gathered and our forces grew.  The oldest most experienced soliders prepared for battle and our youngest, strongest bodies were trained for sacrifice. We joined arms, and saw them off.  We waited.  We fought for justice, we fought for peace. We are still waiting... but you are safe.

    God bless this day, God bless our freedom, and God bless the U.S.A. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pick Me Up - Stuff You Need to Know: Review

Pick Me Up - Stuff You Need To Know... by Jeremy Leslie

So cute. . . a little hard to explain. Let's call it a "stream of consciousness encyclopedia of everything." Yes. There. That sounds right! If you're confused by this, then Pick It Up! See for yourself. It's quite informative, and adorably cheeky

Voluntary Servitude, Title Poem and Book Review

Voluntary Servitude: Poems
Voluntary Servitude
Mark Wunderlich
Dec 15, 08 · edit
Katie Salter's review
I love Mark Wunderlich! I had the pleasure of hearing him read a few years ago, and I find myself greatly influenced by his ghostly pastoral works. I treasure my signed copy which I have read over and over. The following is, of course, the title poem from the book:
In a valley in Wisconsin there is a graveyard where the graves are flooded by spring.
You say, Don’t wreck me, and I say I won’t, but how can I know that?
To see a man in shackles, how you feel about that, depends on whether the servitude is voluntary
The bodies are intact in their gloves, soaked in a bath of ice. Hair a net around them.
Music does not console me. Words in books rise up and scatter.
A friend told me of a snake that came into her room one night.
The house was in Pennsylvania. She lived there alone.
In the dark she could hear it—dry, slipping onto boards like a stocking rolled from a leg.
It retreated when she turned on a light. There was a dark hole at the floor.
Residents disagree about the cemetery.
Some think to say the bodies are intact is wrong.
To suggest that there is anything abnormal is unfit thinking.
I have a new story to tell you.
In it, there is a girl. It’s a story a friend once told me.
Some forms of servitude are voluntary. Some shackles too—
Some you can remove. But this story—
you start in the middle, in the thick and marrow of it.
I think you’ll like it. Let me tell it to you.
Lying side by side. In the dark.

The Babies: A Review

The Babies by Sabrina Orah Mark (Goodreads Author),Jane Miller (Selected by)
Katie Salter's review
Read in January, 2004
S. Orah Mark, along with Mark Wunderlich has also been very influential to my growth as a poet. Her otherworldly views of nature have mixed with my own views of nature in literature and have have tied in that natural or supernatural spirituality with human relationships. She often works in prose, a format that I am quite fond of, but am not sure if I will ever be able to master at her infinitely proficient level. Here is the title poem from the collection:

The Babies

Some thought it was because of all the babies I suddenly seemed to be having. Others, that I should pay for the damages. Fact is, I wasn’t getting any older, so I bought a small aquarium, and skipped town. Took up with a toy store owner until he left me for a more beautiful robot. Took up with a reader of instructional booklets. Never mind. I was lost. By the time I arrived at Mrs. Greenaway’s, it was clear I was nowhere at all. In exchange for room and board, I’d rearrange her furniture, her birthmarks, her quiet animals, until they took on more satisfying shapes. Sometimes the shapes were simple, like a mustache or a pipe. Sometimes they were more complicated arrangements, like the one of dead Mr. Greenaway’s closed barbershop. Over the years, as Mrs. Greenaway and I became more and more vague, the shapes did too. For identification purposes, we’d give them names like She Wasn’t Fooling Anyone, She Was Hurt and She Was Hurt Bad or The Insides of Doctors. One night when I was working on a piece I thought I’d call Symphony, Symphony, the shapes began to slip out of my hands. At first, as Mrs. Greenaway remembers, the sound of broken glass. Then the trumpets. Then the terrible music of all those babies I once seemed to be suddenly having, marching, like soldiers, in rows. Then their round wet bellies coming towards me. Mrs. Greenaway still talks about how expertly they gathered me into their tiny arms. And how they took me away not like a prisoner. But like a mother. Into a past I still swear I never had.

Bite Every Sorrow: Favorite Poem/A Wishlist Book

I have never actually bought this book, and God, I need to. . . Barbara Ras is the author of one of my fave poems, "You Can't Have it all" (Really sweet, really happy) (My other fave is actually called "You Can Have It" (Very bleak and hopeless) and is by Phillip Levine.)I'm actually not kidding, or trying to be weird or ironic, or get some kind of strange attention. These are actually two of my faves!! So here it is You Can't Have It All by Barbara Ras</p>
<p>But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back. You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August, you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love, though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys until you realize foam's twin is blood. You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs, so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind, glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness, never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you all roads narrow at the border. You can speak a foreign language, sometimes, and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead, but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts, for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream, the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand. You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed, at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise. You can't count on grace to pick you out of a crowd but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump, how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards, until you learn about love, about sweet surrender, and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you, you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept. There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's, it will always whisper, you can't have it all, but there is this.</p>

Sex Tips for Girls: Review

Sex Tips For Girls by Cynthia Heimel

Katie Salter's review

Read in January, 2003

Helpful, if not somewhat intimidating, this book is about much, much more than sex. It's basically a survival guide to being female, without having to go into any super-icy anatomy lessons about this part or that part. My mom actually gave me this book as a teenager, I think she was afraid that I was in for the shock of my life or something. For the most its mostly a humorous illustration of things that can go wrong and right, things that go BUMP IN THE NIGHT (yeah, I went there), and the made up and sometimes real life identities that make us who we are.

Twilight Review

r's Reviews > Twilight

Twilight (Twilight, #1) by Stephenie Meyer

Katie Salter's review

bookshelves: favorites Read in November, 2008

Okay, I admit it -- it's pretty good. A bit of a low reading level but it moves pretty fast. The story line, and plot movement seem to make up for the simple writing style. It kind of reminds me of a much better version of that old WB show Roswell. Not at all a challenging read, but it's juicy. High school def. wasn't this interesting for me. The raging hormones of the pair in this book are only compounded by the fact that if Edward loses control he could kill her -- sure makes our mortal guys problems with self control during certain ACTS seem like something of little worry.

A Million Little Pieces Review

Million Little Pieces by James Frey

Dec 15, 08 · edit

Katie Salter's review

Read in August, 2003

I read this before the whole scandal came out. And I just have to say, I am furious. This book moved me so much, and I was horrified and devastated by many of the events that took place. I would shake when I read this book - literally shake, or cry. I was so moved by what he went through, and completely destroyed by the death of poor little Sophie. When I found out about what Mr. Frey did. I was shocked. I can't tell you the violation I felt I had been done to me. Therefore, all I can say about this book is that its an interesting read. I don't know if I would have reacted in the same way when I read it if I had thought that it was mostly fiction to begin with. Books that move us are truly works of art, but now I'll never know what to make of the effect this story had on me. I feel like a fool, and I'm angry as hell. Maybe Frey should write a book about what it's like to be a rich fat cat lying author who's lost the respect of many people, but don't expect me to read it.


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: Review

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
by Dave Eggers
Dec 15, 08.
Katie Salter's review
This is an amazing piece of non-fic. Dave Eggers struggles to raise his pre-teen brother while in his early twenties make us all hold our breaths as we imagine what our lives would be like if we too were in this situation. Eggers struggles to maintain a sex life and advance his career while creating a stable enviroment for his brother Toph, while everything around them is changing. This book was short listed for the pullitzer, and rocketed Eggers further into stardom. (He is the founder of McSweeny's literary review) At times the drama Eggers creates can be a little much to swallow, and I believe that this book may lean more toward memoir than autobio, while other parts of the book are slow to move along. But, hey I guess that's the way life is anyway right. I think that most of us, when answering honestly would agree: we can all be just as histronic as Eggers, especially when in our 20s. I think that we can all find one way or another to connect with Eggers. f

Mockingjay. Explination of "Always" (Spolier Alert)

Maybe it's how fast I read these books, maybe it was just me, or maybe Suzanne Collins wanted the reader to go back and look for the question, or in this case the answer... to the meaning of Peeta's repetition of the word "always". I did remember that it took place in Katniss's room after she broke her heel in the beginning of Catching Fire. I thought it was when she was healing and spending time working on that book with Peeta, but I wasn't sure. I wasn't really even sure that the answer was in the second book. I thought it might be coming at the end of the third, but when I got there last night, and it wasn't revealed, I knew that I needed to go back and look. I really, really wanted to know what exactly what she had said or asked. I didn't know if anyone else had a question about this. Like many people who have read and enjoyed these books, I had almost immediately loaned the second book to my Mom. So I went back this morning and found the answer and so here you go:

"...but it's not safe and I can feel him slipping away, so I just get out one more sentence. "Stay with me."
As the tendrils of sleep syrup pull me down, I hear him whisper a word back but I don't catch it."   

This didn't appear as a quote in Goodreads, so I added it. I feel silly for being confused. Naturally, "always" had it's implications, but I needed to be sure. Funny, how two of my favorite quotes from these books are one word phrases. "Always" and "Real". Sigh. What ever will I read now?